Texas Attorney General Paxton Says Dallas County Can’t Force People to Wear Masks
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a letter on May 12, 2020 that Dallas County officials can’t force people to wear masks or stay at home.
The letter highlights that local orders cannot be in conflict with Governor Greg Abbott’s executive orders in response to the Wuhan virus pandemic.
Paxton sent similar letters to leaders in Bexar and Travis counties.
The letter asserts that Dallas County’s public health order “exceeds the county’s lawful authority and that it is likely to confuse residents.”
The AG’s office urged the county to “act quickly to correct mistakes like these” to avoid legal action.
The letter listed four areas where certain urban counties’ orders clash with Abbott’s order.
Although Abbott has encouraged people to wear masks on multiple occasions, his executive order does not require mask wearing when they go outside. During a news conference announcing parts of his reopening plan, Abbott said local governments can’t punish people for refusing to wear masks.
“Instead, the governor’s order recognizes that Texans will act responsibly and make smart decisions to protect themselves and their families,” Paxton’s letter read. “In contrast, your order purports to strip Texans of their agency.”
The letter also outlines how local governments can’t restrict essential or reopened businesses. The statewide order “recommends, but does not mandate,” that businesses comply with health guidelines from the White House, the state health department, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
However, it did not take sufficiently decisive action in keeping the state open. Instead, it took a lukewarm approach to the issue and let activist local governments ram through their closure orders.
Abbott needs to continue with the reopening plan and make sure that Texas reopens in a timely manner. America’s most economically dynamic state cannot afford to stay closed for any longer.